Hearth and Home Volume One

Learning and Community

M

iracles,

Welcome to the newest series I call Hearth and Home. You will be able to find it posted here on Canto, and sent with love to the Lunar Letter list. (Join in the fun here). The picture to your left is a drawing by my almost-seven year old son, Jasper, who wanted me to share it with all of you. And so it is that sharing is the theme of this new series.

First of all, I want to extend a warm thank you to so many of you. Everyone I have had phone conversations with over the past month has asked me how I am doing on the book and how I am feeling in my pregnancy – to say nothing of the private messages I have received on FB, Insta, and Twitter. They mean the world to me.

Writing a book and being pregnant at the same time have become for me deeply intertwined experiences. In brief, I am now five months pregnant, and my official due date is June 11th – right around the time the manuscript is due for Making Magic: Weaving Together the Everyday and the Extraordinary, to be published by Sounds True, in 2019.

The journey to get to this moment has been eye-opening and tremendous, and it has encouraged me to share more openly than I usually do with all of you miracles.

If we were visiting in person, I would invite you into my home, ask you to sit at my hearth, and I’d serve you Topo Chico with lime, if it was a warmer day (which usually it is); or the tea of your choice or strong coffee roasted in high mountains.

Coffee, I should add, is a sort of medicine for me – not to help me wake up, but to help soothe my asthma. I actually don’t drink a lot of it; I nurse one cup slowly, the Arabic way I like to think (a nod of appreciation to Philz Coffee in the San Francisco Bay Area, whose charming owner is from the Middle East. They are a pretty famous outfit now, but when I started going, you could still see Phil in his awesome fedora working quality control – the BEST).

When I say strong coffee, y’all, I mean it. None of this new-fangled, hipster, light roast for me – no thank you! The blacker the roast the better in my opinion, and my favorite is the Tres Estrella blend (Three Stars for those of you non-Spanish speakers) from Ohori’s Coffee in Santa Fe.) All of this is to say that you should not be surprised if, after an hour of this make-believe conversation, it would seem as though I have barely touched my coffee at all. I’d be asking you tons of questions (those of you who have had readings with me or worked with me one-on-one should be nodding your heads right now) and my darker-than-the-deepest-night roast coffee would be cold and forgotten!

I like to ask questions. At the end of the day, you will discover that one of the deepest truths about me is that I am a lover of learning. One of the most important things this means to me is that I do not have all the answers. I often tell my students in the Miracle Tree Sessions and Spinning Gold that I am learning right beside them – that’s not just a thing I say – it is something I deeply believe and know to be true.

Sometimes I encounter newcomers in my community who think of me as an expert or a guru of some kind. As Jasper would say: no way! Our intuitive gifts and our Sacred Arts practices do not give us a right to omniscience nor to omnipotence, and, in my opinion, it’s better that way: life is much richer and more overflowing with surprises, wonder and goodness. Our gifts are the very expression of soulful seeking after beauty, truth, wholeness and holiness. If we had all the answers already, there would be no need for these gifts in the first place!

Every day and all encounters, in every way, present little opportunities for learning, and this experience is part of the warp and weft of not only my own life-tapestry, but my family’s as well, and my Sacred Arts practice.

As I was thinking about my desire to share with all of you the various happenings, then, I decided that I wanted these more personal posts to reflect most of all this sense of a living learning that makes up my actual life and practice. And I really want to do this with an eye to the end of giving all of you a glimpse of the way one gal, a Sacred Artist, interprets the meaning of living an enchanted life from the inside out, as well as offering a sense of the Sacred Arts in action, in the glorious mess and chaos and wild beauty that is life right here and right now.

So, for those who are interested in the more personal aspect of the Sacred Arts, I invite you to grab the beverage of your choice, kick back, and get comfy. Whatever else I may be accused of, brevity is not on the list!

The story for the past few months begins at three or four am, when I rise every morning to begin writing. I have always been an early riser (and now with a one pound jelly bean shifting and twirling during wee hours, it is especially easy to get up) and so sitting down to write before everything else just made sense.

The house is quiet. The moon, in whatever phase she inhabits, shines through the window at my desk, and after I write, I perform my morning devotions, which involve rituals, chanting, prayer, and magic. As I write, I sometimes seem to sense the little one saying to me “Um, really Mommy? That sentence just will not do”, or “Oooh, that’s a good one!”

You might be interested to learn that I am handwriting the first draft. Yes, that’s right: handwriting. It is nearly finished, two chapters to go. There will be many more drafts to come, but the work has been steady and swift – every morning the next batch of pages, one after the other. I find that for me, handwriting the book at this early stage makes up in feeling, depth and clarity of thinking for what it may lose in terms of speed and efficiency.

Once the entire manuscript has been handwritten, I will then type it out, molding it in slightly different ways as I do so, and then begin on the second draft. (A wise old teacher once compared this stage of the writing process to a momma bear licking her cub into shape.) Writing in this way is also easy because if I lose electricity – which actually happened a few times this Winter in San Antonio – or if a new idea comes to me, I just write it down. My handwritten pages are already festooned with hot pink post-it notes. It is all very high-tech.

The idea of handwriting the first draft actually began with a fiasco. At the end of December’s Mercury Retrograde, my seven year old laptop took a tumble and, as the Ancient Greek poet Homer says, bit the dust. In an instant, without a threnody of underwater goddesses to support me or announce the departure, I discovered that I had lost the nascent files I had created for the book. Oh, there was a moment of despair! But then, I realized that I had actually handwritten the pages first. So I went to my three ring binder and saw that, indeed, the pages were still there in my spidery scrawl. No batteries or plugs were needed to access them; and, as long as I keep the sheets protected from the elements, they have just what I need to make the most solid start I can muster. And from that point, I haven’t stopped.

In my course Spinning Gold, I refer us to J.R.R. Tolkien  “eucatastrophe”, a narrative element he identifies in Fairy Tales. This tumble-down topsy-turvy destruction of my old trusty laptop is a little example of eucatastrophe, because – as a result of this loss – not only did I discover a better way to approach the writing of my book, I also decided to replace my laptop with a desktop which is much better for my posture and my health (my dear friend Theresa Reed – the Tarot Lady – who also happens to teach yoga was like: DESKTOP. NOW. She is wise). Handwriting the first draft has also cut down on my screen time, which has been very healthy for me and for the wee one.

So both the book and the baby have forced me to take a fresh look at some of my daily habits. This, my friends, is one of the first steps of Sacred Arts in action; one that I have seen many of you do as well.  For me, as I have been writing the book, I have felt the need to allow my own ideas their own space, silence, and time for gestation and deep metabolism.

Reading too much, or the wrong things, taking in information without proper discernment, can muddy those waters. One becomes more sensitive here. Actually, our community of Soulful Seekers is full of sensitive folks – those who feel deeply, who take external information and stimulus in a deeply internal way. For me, as I felt a growing sensitivity occur on multiple levels, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, one of the biggest changes I’ve made has to do with my intake of news. My habit was to look at various news items on the internet, or an app on my phone, just as a matter of convenience.

I started noticing that I never really spent any time with any one of the items. Glancing, skimming, here and there, working with the general, most vague impressions of things. How could I not feel ashen blooms of anxiety on a regular basis? I want to be an informed citizen AND there had to be a better way, other than exposing myself to huge amounts information, without being able to process or digest any of it effectively. I also noticed that in my community my students were experiencing something similar – so many of us are on media and social media overload these days.

So now I have put a stop to all of this glancing and skimming, and have migrated offline to ‘slow’ media and long form writing – to my favorite weekly periodical the Economist, a British publication.  I’ll work through it, slowly all week, from cover to cover.

I don’t agree with everything there, but I like the style of thinking and reporting, its global scope and comprehensiveness. When I have the time to take a short break from my writing, my teaching and counseling work and my devotions, I grab my strong coffee, usually in the afternoon (which I still haven’t finished, by the way, and since it has grown cold, I ask my sweet husband to warm it up for me); I turn everything off, I slow down and I take my time. I am happy to report that this way of approaching the news – looking to offline sources of long-form writing and analysis – has promoted some very good ‘mental’ digestion – has helped to build a kind of psychological toughness, and promotes the development of knowledge rather than merely fleeting impressions of things. I do the same thing with fiction – right now I am reading the Antelope Wife  by Louise Erdrich.

Once you begin to look at the basics, there is no stopping. One thing leads to another. We pay attention to one place and others unfold. (This is why, by the way, I teach about and encourage the interrelationship and wholeness that holds between all of the Sacred Arts.)

So I’ve also become aware of some unhelpful ideas when it comes to book writing. I know many of you are writers yourselves, and probably a few of you would like to publish a book one day too. One of the ideas I had when this process started was that I would have uninterrupted days where for hour upon hour all I could do was write. Conversely, is the fear that if we don’t have long stretches of uninterrupted hours, there would be no way I would ever finish the work.  But after actually having a few of these halcyon days of zero interruptions over the Winter, I realized that, for me at least, having long stretches of time to do nothing but write was a kind of hell.

I love writing so very much. But I also love and have a duty to teach my Spinning Gold and Miracle Tree students, I love my one-on-one sessions, I love creating ritual and ceremony for my Witch In Your Pocket and Lunar Lights clients, and so on. I love every part of my work. I realized I have watched it feed and nourish the writing in some unexpected ways. It turned out, devoting all my time to writing choked out one of the more important sources of inspiration for my writing, which, after all is said and done, is all of you. What I discovered is this: I don’t need all of the time, I just need the right amount of time.

As I tell a story of magic with pen on paper there is another magical tale growing inside of me. I am one of those lucky and blessed women who seem to have easy pregnancies (though I do feel that I made up for it with my first labor which was thirty-six plus hours). This pregnancy has been markedly different from my first, because now it is not just two who are affected by the little one; it is also our first child, Jasper.

This pregnancy is also different because I am thirty-seven, whereas I was twenty-nine when I was pregnant with Jasper. During my first pregnancy, I discovered how pathologized pregnancy is, at least here in the US (I cannot speak to other traditions in other places). You are often made to feel almost as if there is something wrong with you for being pregnant – that you are fragile and must be hawk-eyed by every doctor and nurse, that you require many medical personnel doing medical things around you all of the time. Because of some of the health issues in my family, my husband and I both chose to have our first child and this next child in the hospital. And I love my Ob-Gyn – she is the bees knees and does not make me feel like a sick person at all.

But, the culture around pregnancy and pregnant women has A LOT of shifting to do and that is ESPECIALLY true if the woman is over thrty-five. As I reflect on this, I think there are bigger ramifications that it speaks to. I wonder if this is part of what happens when we have any kind of liminal experience, which pregnancy and birth definitely are; but so are others, like divorce, physical illness, recovery from addiction, or mental breaks – each of these events have undeniable physiological realities and may require medical treatment and intervention.

But to think that the only reality they carry is medical – that there are not other, more subtle realities also at work and that there are not other, more magical treatments and supports that are also appropriate – seems very short sighted to me. It does not gel with any of the traditions that I am familiar, nor with ones deepest sense and experience of things. A pregnant woman needs both her physical and metaphysical needs attended to in various ways. She also has a specific kind of access to magic and the liminal that can be of benefit not just to her, but can and should be to the benefit of the entire community. So yes, lots of room for improvement here.

Of course when Baby Saussy (whom we are calling Sausalito for the time being) kicks and moves and twirls and tumbles, I am not concerned with the fact that large parts of the culture pathologize pregnancy. I am much more interested in talking to the little one, engaging in my morning rituals of prayer and chant and magic, and writing up some information on making magic that supports conception, safe pregnancy, and then the wonderful, wild, ride that is being a parent.

I am also deeply aware, even more than usual, of the large percentage of our community who cannot or have chosen not to have children. I have written to you all before and I know that for many of you, reading this brings up all the stuff – excitement and love for me and my family (which I am so grateful for) but also sadness, depression, even anger too. I get that. I want you all to know that when it comes to this momma, you are seen, you are beloved, and you are held as precious. My beloved and I are so grateful that our boys have a large community of men and women who they can call on for guidance, inspiration, mothering and fathering in all of the different ways that mothering and fathering can and do happen. You all are a vital part of our lives.

When it comes to magic, my big effort over the past month has been to say thank you. I was gifted with a wonderful gratitude jar and card set for Yule. Every day I write down something that I am grateful for and I also text it to my best girlfriend. Sometimes the things are what you would expect: grateful for a healthy baby, grateful for an amazing husband, and sometimes they are not: grateful for pain that gives me information, grateful for hot water – what an incredible luxury that is!

On the 1st of January I created a big gratitude altar for my Holy Helpers complete with tons of flowers and good candles and their favorite foods. I did not ask for anything. I just spent time saying thank you for what has been given. It felt so good. The shifts felt in my life and family over the past thirty days because of that practice have been noticeable and it is now a regular part of my monthly rituals.

So ending this first letter on that note seems just right to me. Some things that I am grateful for right now and that I would love to share with you:

My beloved husband and the amazing not for profit he runs alongside managing all of the operations for my business.

My son’s fantastic art making (see above) and the fact that I get to live with artists and musicians.

My allowance of one cup of coffee – which I will shamelessly nurse throughout the day and ask my husband to heat up for me again and again and again.

Really cute kittens. 

This book.

This service.

This blog.

The fact that Tarot and Photography are talking to each other.

Open roads.

And each one of you.
In love and magic,

Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on new moons and full moons each month.

Choose and Be Well

Foundations

D

ear Miracles,

Someone dear to me asked that I write to my Lunar correspondents about how to gain perspective in troubled times.  Understandably enough. The month of August 2017 has given us whiplash – first, Charlottesville, then the remarkable eclipse, ending with Hurricane Harvey.

I have a few thoughts about all of this, but I decided it would be best to hold off before answering, and pull some cards from my classic Marseilles deck first, in the spirit of the Delphic Days we started over a year ago. I had my beloved lend assistance, since this is a concern we both have together.

What do we need to know in troubled times, I asked, and what is the appropriate way to respond?

The first card we pulled was the diagnostic card: the Tower Card. And then the answer to the second query came in two parts: Death and the Sun, Le Soleil.

I actually love the Tower card. It speaks to change – swift and absolute. There is nothing subtle about this card, no easing one into the difficult times. Rather, they land on your doorstep, on your television screen, in living color and undeniable.

The Tower also speaks to a core tenet of the Sacred Arts – that beauty is found in the broken places. And so it is. I have been privileged now to watch hundreds and hundreds of people sift through and stand knee deep in their broken places. Without fail they find treasure. It is always unexpected. Not always clearly applicable in the moment. But treasure nonetheless. I like this card too, because it tells you what you are dealing with straight up – it feels like the end of the world because in some ways, it definitely is.

In the Marseilles deck “Death” is simply “XIII”, that is, it is unnamed. In my experience with the card generally, and what I encourage my clients and students to see, is that Card XIII is nothing to be scared of, and can lead to very interesting and useful insights.

When we divine, we are looking for a way of understanding not only what might be, but also what is, and what has been. And whenever one is engaged in this project, it is much more useful to be led by curiosity as opposed to passionate feelings that are often called up by organizations that have their own agendas (hint: not concerned with what is best for you).

So as diviners we ask questions, and the interesting one to ask with Card XIII here is…why is it unnamed? Why is Death not written on the Card? Every other card in the Major Arcana has a title – for example, The Sun or The Tower. I will have more to say about this question below. But let’s begin with the final card that came up in the reading, The Sun.

What is the appropriate way to respond? we asked.

Under the brilliant rays of the sun, two people hold each other in a caring embrace. This was especially poignant to me as something literally needed for significant parts of my home state of Texas – to dry things up, to shine once more, to remind us that all was not lost.

The first thing many of us do in troubled times is look out for number one. It is so deeply an instinctual urge that very likely no human being is immune from it. Disaster looms and the first thought is: I’m going to get mine, I’m going to take care of me, it’s a dog eat dog world.

Thomas Hobbes, a political philosopher whose work still shapes the world today, said it like this: “life is nasty, brutish, and short.” He believed that men responded in kind to that reality, making life, and politics a zero sum game of winner takes all. It is easy to write off that idea as another irrelevant notion by a European man, but the man had lived through some serious devastation and war. He had witnessed events first hand that gave him this impression. And we have some sense of what he is talking about. But the upshot politically is that our common life all comes down to force – not justice, not something beautiful and good.

We can feel it physically when this attitude comes over us. Jaw juts out. Voice gets louder, harsher. Shoulders hunch forward, eyes narrow in suspicion, and we are just waiting and ready to drop down into fighting stance. We say things we would normally never say. We treat people in ways we would normally never treat them. We harden ourselves in every possible way; feeling and fearing that we cannot afford to stay tender. For to do so equals death.

We know this way of being; we have seen it in others, and if we are honest we have seen it in ourselves. But we also know something else. While a nihilistic, me-first, attitude is part of our experience it is not the only part, and we are certain that it is not the best part.

For what we also see is that saving your own skin is the last thing that actually counts in troubled times. What matters, what inspires, enlivens and teaches is having and helping each other, moving through it together. Not you or me, but we, all of us, together. We feel this physically too. It opens up our chest, we breathe deeper, our throats close up and our eyes fill with tears; we soften, letting tenderness in. The love found in helping where and when we can, even at personal loss, shines far brighter than the fear that would have us betray right relationship for a survival that is lonely, isolated, and apart.

I’ve heard multiple people from both sides of the political aisle say that Hurricane Harvey has been a kind of blessing because after the hatred, ignorance, racism, and division we saw in Charlottesville we needed to know that we, as a country, could come together. This strikes me as wrong for multiple reasons. I don’t think hurricanes work like that for one thing. For another it feels far too sentimental. I shudder to think of the attitude it could foster. Could precipitating a disaster be justified to ‘bring people together’?

But what I do find interesting is the yearning that I see across cultures, ethnic, and racial lines to be led by our better angels, not our worst selves. We know we have within us what is required to fuel more Charlottesvilles, for hate comes easy. We aren’t so sure, I think, that we have what it takes to mitigate a disaster like Harvey. We aren’t as sure any more that we can love that hard. So when we see that at least some of us can and do love that hard, I think a breath held by the collective is suddenly released. Maybe the sun will shine again after all.

Le Soleil – The Sun – recalls to mind the ancient Chinese concept of virtue, ren, which is a pictograph of a human being held within the number two, the number of relationship. This is a picture of humanity.

Our humanity – that is, who we really are – begins in at least two, in relationship, not with ourselves alone, egoistically conceived as prior to all other relationships. The starting point is right relationship, not isolated ego.

This is one part of the mystery held in the teaching found in many First Nation and indigenous communities, that life is made up of “all our relations” – people, creatures, rocks…all beings. Together.

In the Gospels, Christ drives toward the same idea, advising his people to be like the sun whose rays shine everywhere. Your deepest love is not partial. He doesn’t mean to say, um, be like a flashlight, shining on one thing (yourself) and forgetting about the others.

In Plato, the Sun was – playfully – the Good. Most of all, the Sun is fullness of vision and clarity of mind and consciousness – and consciousness is healing. This is the moment the sun returns after the troubling storm departs: now the rebuilding can begin.

When I see radically different groups of people, from different times, different parts of the world, and different cultures working hard to say something very similar, I pay attention. I think in all of the above examples there is an articulation of what it means to strive, together, to find wisdom and healing at the exact times they are most likely to disappear. I see that in each of the above examples there is a call to love, not as a way to avoid or escape the Tower crumbling and falling, but rather as a way to meet it, head on.

In a Delphic Days conversation, what I pull from my deck is not authoritative: you would also ask the question of your oracle of choice – whichever one works for you – and we would share and sort through the results, and let them guide us, as we move together slowly and collectively toward wisdom and healing, toward a perspective that counts.

I want to tell you, though, tenderly, that no useful perspective is forthcoming until we can recall out of the flooded lands and muck, some scattered old words back into our speech and into our reflections on our hardest experiences – until we can call some wanderers home again.

The disappearance of words in the mud of self-forgetting is surely an event in history. Since the time of Friedrich Nietzsche, it has been de rigueur to try to go “beyond” good and evil, to be the sort of people who create our own values.

Good and evil were understood to be bourgeois categories, guaranteeing mediocrity and stifling our (as it was understood) truly heroic and freely creative natures. We washed our hands of all self-righteous moralistic talk, disgusted with the moral absolutism and injustice it all-too-often inspired.

Case in point: the institution of slavery. We wanted a more just world, and in order to create it we knew we needed to stand on new ground, turn a fresh page, and cut out the language of good and evil that had been used to excuse and encourage barbaric practices.

The approach makes sense. It comes from the best possible place. The consequence, however, is that the concept and language of virtue has passed out of our line of sight, losing its currency in our ordinary ways of thinking and talking about hard experiences of life.

Virtue has even come to mean the opposite…sanctimonious hypocrisy, prejudice. Worse than that, the concept of virtue is becoming more and more language owned and used by some of the loudest and most hateful voices. I heard many people say many things about what happened in Charlottesville. I heard no one call it – for very long or at all – by its proper name: evil.

And here’s the thing that anyone whose lineage and life has been touched by slavery can tell you: You don’t erase the underlying thing by erasing the word. Even though we have lost the language of virtue, the phenomena of virtue or – what is more precise – the problems which virtue speaks to, are still there, everyday, practically unnamed and wandering about among us, homeless, sometimes with great harm and sometimes with astonishing grace.

We have seen virtue and its opposite on display in August, first in Charlottesville and then in Houston. We have seen it; but few of us have the language to speak to what we have seen. Which means that we also do not have the capacity to think and feel through those events with as much integrity and clarity as we might otherwise be able to. Which means in turn, that our actions in response may not be as rooted, clear-sighted, helpful, healing, and loving as we would have them be. That means that things like Charlottesville will happen again and again and again. And when we are at the point where we look to a massively destructive storm to make us feel better about ourselves, I think we need to re-assess what’s been given up and whether the trade off was worth it.

It is no coincidence, to my way of thinking as a Sacred Artist, that the Marseilles “Death” card Number XIII is unnamed. On the one hand, we know what it is. Death doesn’t need to be introduced. The Holy Names are sacred too – better to leave such things unnamed, the things that surpass all comprehension. But just look at the dismembered body parts strewn about under the sway of that sharp scythe. Death is unnamed because that is what fear does: it unnames us, freezes us, renders us mute.

Now flip this over and you can see something. Finding the true name of a thing, like your own true name, is not in fact dis-membering, but re-membering, bringing it back together, unifying, whole-making and holy. This is the challenge of the Death card. Do you know your name? Do you know yourself? Do you remember? This is why in my tradition we make such a big deal about remembering our Beloved Dead; in remembering them, we remember ourselves, we remember our capacity not just for fear but for love.

Perspective will come, then, when we can finally see that – after all – even though we don’t like to speak in absolutes, and we don’t want to be unjust people, we are not at all beyond the problems of good and evil, we are not beyond taking a stand for the good and for what is right, and perhaps even not beyond naming them for what they are in fact.

Maybe it is time, then, to humbly and simply welcome our homeless wanderers – those problems of good and evil – home again in our thinking, give them a place to reside, to clothe and nourish them, help them re-enter society – to educate them, to learn the lessons of the past, for the sake of our future together. Maybe they too are like ancestors and maybe it is time we start to remember them as such.

I suspect that when we do that we will know with more certainty that we are here to love hard and that we will be able to see with more clarity the ways and places that hate seeps in like so much poison and stop it in its tracks.

In the aftermath of August, we hear some popular speakers saying things like “human beings are “wired” to fundamentally good.” So attractive, for it offers a simple solution to life’s problems, but it is a silver bullet solution. I submit that this view, far from expanding our sight, in fact narrows our vision, blocks perspective – by obscuring what may be staring us in the face.

My thoughts have lately been with a specific client base that I have, and wondered what they would think about some of these popular speakers and their claims. These clients have been with me a very long time. They are mostly African-American, women, and in between the ages of 55-65. They are church-goers, and they have a deep memory: they remember the Civil Rights movement, they remember some of the events that made it necessary and that still do. I heard them say in their calm, alto voices, “People are fundamentally good? Bullshit. People make a choice to be good.” I love these clients of mine. They are not on Facebook. They are brief and polite in their email exchanges. They strongly prefer to speak on the phone. They don’t want to take a web-based anything, but they very much appreciate a straight up card reading. And they call it like it is. They have taught me so very much.

Sacred Artists and Soulful Seekers get relationships. We get awareness and paying attention. We are down for those projects. We even understand the need to choose love over fear. But we shy away from remembering that there is good and evil in the world for all the understandable reasons. But my “church ladies” – as I think of them – would have us remember something else: everyday we make choices, and if you have lost the language that describes what you are choosing then how will you make the best choice? How will you choose good? How will you choose love? How will you look at hate in the face and give it a name so that it might be vanquished, not forever, but for today?

Here is what’s known: Towers fall, Death comes, and the Sun will rise once more.
Here’s what’s not: How will you choose? Where will you stand? You or me or us, together? Fear and self-preservation? Or the much harder path of love that doesn’t turn away and something that, once upon a time, was called good?

Remember yourself.
Choose and be well.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on new moons and full moons each month.

Prayer for the Solar Eclipse

Lunar Letter

M

ay we shine.

And as we shine, we know that we journey, one foot in front of the other, carving out the regular cycle of our stories, the circular motion of cell and breath and life, and that during this journey there will be interruptions.

We trip and we fall as we wander our course, sure as the Sun and Moon also trip over themselves in their giddy rush to meet one another once more, falling into each other’s limned embrace.

And as we rise up with our skinned knees and elbows we might, if we are brave, we might, if we are something close to wise, say “thank you” – hearing within the interruption a call to attention and awareness, discovering grace in the fall.

Seeing too the patterns to which we have clung and agreed and perpetuated knowingly or not, and taking the moment of rising to decide if we still wish to walk in this particular way on this particular path, knowing that the choice resides within, as does the answer.

And as we choose, righting ourselves once more, traveling our path with greater purpose, we no longer fear the falling, the missing of the mark, or the wandering off the course and into the wild and star-filled woods. Rather, we welcome the moments of panic and loss, recalling the freedoms that they hold alongside our own true commitments, knowing that they bring us ever closer to the embrace of our own deepest Beloved.

And so, burnished by shadow and bruised by our falling, we shine ever brighter.

Image credit: The above image comes from the book Sun and Moon, which I first heard about from the fabulous Arts and Culture blog, Brainpickings. Sun and Moon is published by indie publisher Tara Books, dedicated to giving voice to marginalized art and literature, and featuring the work of ten Indian folk and tribal artists illustrating ancient stories about Sun and Moon.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on new moons and full moons each month.

New Moon in Gemini: Blessing for Lovers of Learning

Lunar Letter

M

iracles,

Learning is often seen as boring. Prim and proper, learning wears glasses and has its hair tied up in a neat bun and only speaks at library appropriate volume. This is the story many of us have been told and bought into. So what would you say if I told you that one of the greatest figures in philosophy was guided by the Delphic Oracle and an inner voice? Or that the theory of relativity came to Einstein in a dream? That chemistry not so very long ago was in a vibrant conversation with its wild sibling, alchemy?

In my experience within our community of soulful seekers, school has been a mixed bag – either you loved it or hated it and not much in between. But across the board the sense that there is something more, something other, that not everything worth believing in can be empirically seen or justified, can sometimes make the entire process of learning feel alien; as if it is something for others but not for us. (This is part of the motivation behind the “get out of your head and into your heart” speak that you all know I find very unhelpful). I am here to tell you differently. Under the New Moon in Gemini on Thursday, let yourself come back into a wild and loving relationship with learning and the seedbed from which all learning springs up from: Wonder.

Here is a blessing to keep you company as you do.

Blessed One(s) in whom we live, move, and have our being.
You have been called by many names: Daimon, Genius, Brilliance, Intelligence, but we know you as Wonder.
As we embark on new discoveries and seek to increase our knowledge and wisdom hold us fast to your starry visage.
Remind us that learning is not measured by how much is known but rather by the quality
and depth with which we know any one thing.
Call to our minds keen-eyed Attention and sharpened Discernment so that we are fully able
to pierce through misleading illusions and see things as they truly are.
Teach us that wisdom begins not in having all of the answers but rather in asking the
one needed question.
Help us remember that this journey is not one we must make on our own but that we are
joined to a community of souls who have gone long before us and who will come long
after we are gone, and that within this community it is safe not only to know, but safe also
to admit when we do not know.
Fill us with Wonder, Blessed Ones, keeping foremost in our minds and hearts, bodies and souls,
that it is not what we know but how we live within that knowledge that shows best who we truly
are and all that we are capable of achieving…
These things we ask in the heavenly and earthly and always blessed names, may it be so.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on new moons and full moons each month.

The Stories that Sound ~ Blessed be our ability to listen

Lunar Letter

M

iracles

Most of you know that I love stories, myths, faerie tales, and folklore. I work with them as the primary source material from which the Sacred Arts spring and can best be taught and practiced.

Most of you know that I love stories, myths, faerie tales, and folklore. I work with them as the primary source material from which the Sacred Arts spring and can best be taught and practiced.

Many of the stories I focus on are faerie tales, because they are stories surprisingly and refreshingly made for all the risky, unsafe tough stuff of life. There’s some real medicine in those stories. And so many of these stories are well-known and well-loved, often with a twist or flourish that sets them apart from the “usual” ways of telling.

But the most important stories are all around us. These are stories that happen to us on a daily basis, stories that can – when seen by the right light and told in the just right way – show us not only the blessing, but also the best way to apply it to our life.

Here’s the thing about story. We usually think stories are “fiction”, and “non-fiction” is reserved for facts. But if you look into it, into the stories that really make an impact on your life, I’m willing to bet you’ll agree with me when I say that for the really powerful stories, the ones that make a difference in the way we live, the truer the better. They wouldn’t hit us if they didn’t have that ring of truth. The category that rigidly holds the separation between fiction and non-fiction? Um, not very useful, really, when you get down to brass tacks.

If stories do this, that can only mean there is something in life and experience that calls out for the telling. Every now and then – or even often! – life throws us a curve ball, a swerve, sometimes terrifying, sometimes wondrous, sometimes both – but always worth telling about, always worth remembering, always worth learning and growing from.

The stories I work with in teaching and crafting the Sacred Arts are stories that function like echo or depth-sounding in oceanography.

The greatest stories – and different ones will work for different people – penetrate our depths. They show us that we have untold depths first of all, and then they show us something needed about ourselves. They show us ourselves, or some aspect of ourselves we haven’t yet seen or felt. They make our bones vibrate and our hairs stand on end; we know them when we hear them or read them. They have the power to change us, not simply because they move us, but because they heighten, deepen and sharpen our awareness of ourselves and of life. They nourish our consciousness, which grows as a result – and this growth in consciousness is magic, possesses the actual power to begin unlocking and freeing our soul from those deepest most troublesome patterns, binds and wounds.

All of my work in the Sacred Arts, in a very real way, is about encouraging you to seek out those stories for yourself, the ones that “depth sound” your life.

And what I would love you to grasp, as this week takes us into the deeper than deep Scorpio full moon is this: the experiences and stories that depth-sound us, happen to you too, every single day. So it is that I say: blessed be our ability to listen, to truly listen, to what we see and experience and encounter; blessed be our ability to listen so that we might find our own stories that sound.

I would like to share with you one of mine own stories, one that depth-sounded my life, in exactly the moment I needed it. It is a true story, and is an origin story, showing me the way to the Sacred Arts standpoint from which I now work:

The night I saw the white horse, the moon was small and her light was dim. I had traveled with some of my family out to Fort Davis in West Texas, land at one time known only to the Great Spirit, the Comanche and Apache, and later few intrepid ranchers. And now those who had commandeered the top of a mountain did so under the unquestioned authority of science. And on this mountain, where perhaps one could watch a sunrise and know something of beauty, concrete had been poured and metal bolted down into the flesh of rock as glass-filled spaces where before there was only wind.

This was built in the name of science and for people like me who had poor vision from living in the city and rarely beholding a horizon. Built so that I might look through a lens and get a taste of the sacred and the vast that those who came before us knew as they knew their own breath or the blood dancing under their skin.

A dark moon is best for stargazing. But a small, dim moon will do. I looked through the lenses reflecting and refracting light into the galaxy with her milky thighs, and saw the scars on the moon. I beheld these things and wondered if the others around me—family and strangers—thought as I did that by beholding her scars and perfect light we might somehow better know our own.

The night grew darker and cold with a February wind blowing off the river and through the trees, singing a story of lowing cattle huddled together under the humid warmth of their breath, a story of a springtime full of wildflowers, tender green cactus and good pasture. We drove down the side of the mountain, quiet in wonder at ourselves, at our smallness, our hubris. The steep road twisted and turned until it spat us out onto the single main road running through what would have been another town, known more by the dead than the living, had it not been fueled by the stars.

Now the road was wide and black and the air was blacker still. Out here in God’s country, there are no streetlights; and the few houses we passed held darkened windows. It was late, and jobs being what they were, one got up with the sun and evidently went to bed with it too. And that is when I saw it.

At first I did not know what it was. A white blur in the middle of the broad black way. The powerful beams of the truck illuminated it, but the shape was so far away, that it could have been a woman drunk and crying, a spirit, perhaps even a concentrated and rapidly moving fog bank.

Except even then there was direction, electricity, and purpose. This was a creature and it was headed straight for us. As it neared, I gasped out “horse!” and so it was.

A beautiful animal at least eighteen hands high and in the flash between black and headlight, it was pure white. It swerved, and with eyes rolling, it passe our vehicle and continued galloping down that road, carrying with it a legacy of power, exertion, and grace that came up from behind and stole away the breath.

Overhead was a different light. Not star nor moon, not the glow of the animal itself nor the two bright headlights, but a spotlight from a helicopter looking for the animal. The owner must have been distraught-the horse looked well-cared for and healthy: someone loved it. And perhaps whoever was looking for the animal was concerned about it too – its loss, and the fear that travels in the wake of loss like a knife laid against the thin skin of your chest.

I want to believe it was not simply leather-handed men and women worried that a rogue horse with such power and at a full gallop could cause a wreck, or a death, or could damage something or someone and result in the spending of money. I choose to believe that they cared for both creature and family-desiring to put their job-calloused hands to the work of touching, repairing, healing and reuniting. I wanted it too, for inside the glass and steel vehicle, so like the glass and concrete observatory on the mountain, I had felt the eye-rolling fear, the steaming breath smelling like clover once warmed under a gentle sun, now covered with dust. But I felt also the thrill.

Oh, to run!

To run straight for the other side of the knife we call fear, cutting a trail made of celestial dust and star-fire blazing forth, so that those with courage might follow it to something new and unknown. The white horse was running, and I wanted it to run into the night, into what stretches beyond broken people and fractured places, where it is dark, and whole, and wild.

Under the light of the magical Scorpio Moon, with your divination tool of choice consider asking:

What are my depth-sounding stories?
What would change if I did listen to it, or share it with others?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on new moons and full moons each month.

Full Moon in Libra: Open Horizons

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

I am often asked about power. What is it? Who has it? How can we get it? Why do we give it away? Is it even something that can be given away? Why do people take it? What does right relationship with it look and feel like? And, most poignantly of all, what if I don’t have any?

Power gets a lot of air time. More than one excellent coach or teacher talks about standing in your power, claiming your power, and naming your powers. Superpowers have migrated from the comic book stands and pages of graphic novels into self-development circles, and I even teach a year-long course that looks at how stories and sacred arts put us into touch with our native powers. Power certainly gets around.

And yet, for all of that, it is still a very confusing topic that often feels raw and tender and alien, as if power is a special substance that belongs to someone else but not really to you or to me. There seems to be an epidemic feeling of powerlessness in our personal and collective lives.

For this month’s full moon in Libra, we look at the power of open horizons. For many of us, at some point in life – or even at most points in life – the horizon does not feel open and the way does not feel clear. We each carry a lineage, a lineage heavy with feelings, thoughts and experiences that tell us that the way is closed – that is, that we cannot do it, no matter how hard we try and no matter how good we are, and that it is not going to work out in the end. Or, that even if it does work out in the end, it isn’t really going to make a difference anyway.

 These are not abstract ideas. They are stories about real people and lived experiences handed down parent to child, grandparent to grandchild, aunt to niece and nephew, cousin to cousin, brother to sister. They are the stories, many of them sad, many of them hopeless, many of them fatalistic, that form the warp and weft of our lives. They are the material and habits of mind and thinking that suck the wind out of your sails and the power right out of your blood.

And that is just the inheritance many of us receive. It does not touch upon the counterproductive – or even just plain bad – philosophies, ideas and relationships that we fall into and buy into all on our own!

Our first impulse may be to try to throw off all of these things weighing us down, to move forward without looking back. But the very curious thing we find is that the special power and meaning of open horizons unfolds within a deep relationship with its opposite.  We tend to think the opposite of an open horizon has something to do with stifling limitations.  But this is only one kind of opposite, the one that contradicts. There is another, and that is the one that complements or completes.  Usually we stop with the contradictory and don’t go on to consider the other side.  But the true complementary opposite of the open horizon is not that terribly powerless feeling of being limited, but is, rather, feeling at home in the world.

Let’s call it ‘homefulness’ for now – a full feeling of actually, for real, being at home. What is that really like? Now under some conditions the dwelling places we call by name “home” lack this feeling; but the feeling of true homefulness, of being at home, I think you will agree, is far from a painfully limiting indolence, or a trap, but is much closer to a joyful flourishing.  Think of one of those big beautiful trees you see around on occasion.

To bless the open horizons of our life, therefore, is also to bless our being truly at home in the world in some way, shape or form.

Now the real secret is that deep in the heart of our heavy lineages, the ones that stand in the way, somewhere this true sense of home resides. What is implied by the thickets of misunderstandings and bad ideas and bad actions – the ones that alienate us and others? It is, in truth, the very possibility of home, of feeling completely, utterly, wholly at home.

If you want to start at the beginning, and hone in on what creates an open horizon in the first place – if you want to discover the actual open horizon in your life – look to the feeling of being at home. Where is your true sense of being at home, of belonging?  Where do you actually locate it? If you can find that for yourself, then not very far away from this you will soon discover the freedom and potential that comes with an open horizon, the journeys yet to be traveled and those great discoveries yet to be made by you.

There is, moreover, a small magical act than can clear the road and open the way. It is a power, one that I consider native ground for every single one of us and it is this: our choice.

You get to choose. You get to choose your approach, your attitude, your priorities. You get to make a different choice if the ones you have been making are not working.

You can choose to tell the same sad stories or to tell a different set of stories, ones that work as good medicine strengthening heart, soul, mind, and body all together. If you do not have any happy stories in your family then look harder. If you still cannot find them then guess what? You can choose to create them, to write them, you can choose to live them.

Also too, you get to choose the teachings and the teachers and the learning that inform and color your own life. What ideas give you strength to stand and act with wisdom and courage and love? What teachings or teachers do not?

You get to choose what experiences you learn from and what experiences you choose to give value to and you also get to choose what experiences do not have the depth or weight to bear down upon you any longer. In short, you get to choose what you want to keep and what you would like to finally set down.

It has been said that our choices make us who we are and I find that to be true. But more than that, our choices reveal to us who we want to be, and our choices influence those around us too. If you are looking for a spiritual practice you could stop now: the choices you make every day and the way you live them is the practice that we have all signed up for.

Now to be clear: making a different choice does not mean that everything will always work out well in the end, or that you can avoid and escape the tough stuff that you are about to run headlong into. It is a power and like any real power it must be nourished, refined, and cultivated.

But that is the magic of an open horizon. The magic begins with the thrilling kiss of the unknown, and can lead to great mystery and wild adventure, or it can lead you to your true home, or to a little church in the mountains where just the right prayer can be prayed. The road is open and you get to choose how you want to travel it; how you want to show up in the world today, tomorrow, and every day after.

Divination Question for Full Moon in Libra

The power of choice and the open horizon that it creates is an especially appropriate theme for the Libra full moon since one of the great teachings of Libra with her balances and blindfolds is that our choices matte and that also, we make them every single day. So under the light of Luna in Libra, consider a situation that has been sticky and tricky for you. Then, with the divination tool you love best, try asking this question:

What would happen if I made a different choice?

Lunar love to each and every one of you!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on new moons and full moons each month.

New Moon in Aries: Blessed Be The Hell Raisers

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

The Sun is in Aries and so is today’s New Moon. I’m blessed with many Rams in my family and today we are celebrating the birthday of one of my favorites – my Dad! I rarely think of myself as a rebel, but I come out of a family that is full of them…outlaws, underdogs, and yes, hell raisers. That’s one reason why they have a special place in my heart. Another is that I believe the hell raisers are often angels in full disguise; I’ve seen golden pinions shining through more than one scarred bomber jacket and scarred back.

Maybe you have too.

When I sat down to write the prayer for this month’s new moon I knew it was time to honor them; that the hell raisers needed their own special blessing. And so…

Blessed be the hell raisers.

The ones who raise fists and eyes to a wide open sky in anger and rage and all their tattered hope.
The vixens who dare to walk the room with their too short skirts and their too high heels and their too red lips.
The Doers and the Gotta Get It Done-ers who cannot, for the life of them, just sit still.
The impatient ones who are not going to wait, or be reasonable or be calm, who will fight no matter what.
With their rebel yells, their black leather, their ivory skulls and red roses worn like so many pearls and rubies beyond price.
Trying their damnedest, in all of the ways that they are told they can’t or shouldn’t or must not, to literally raise hell back up to the heavens with their ravens’, their smokers’ illicit cries – proclaiming that we too are part of the story and our secret love affair is with justice.

Blessed be the hell raisers.

The risk takers and the heroes, first responders and soldiers, who plunge ahead when everyone else cuts and runs.
The rash ones, remembering that “rash” is not that far from the old Hebrew “ruach” very breath of soul and essence.
The dancers who don’t care who might be looking, who dance for the sheer joy of electric movement from the heart to the toe, who dance for the dance itself and will not stop.

Blessed be the hell raisers.

The outlandish and the outlaws, who fit in nowhere, and so with nails and sharp teeth and more than enough wildness carved out and created their own, staring down all that is said to be impossible with a knowing glance that says, “sit back and watch.”
Bad and dangerous.
Criminal and Scandalous.
Ever pushing the envelope just a little bit farther.
Representing for all that is wild, all that is unruly.

Blessed be the hell raisers.

The secret missionaries and incognito bodhisattvas of ghetto and goulag, gangland and waste lands whose bright righteousness cannot help but shine out among the spikes and thorns, for it too, is a bit of a rebel and will not be contained.

In love and blessings,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on new moons and full moons each month.